James Otis Elementary School receives the Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize

Three years after the Donald McKay School became the first East Boston school to win the prestigious $100,000 Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize, the James Otis Elementary School received the honor of being the second Eastie school to claim the prize last week.

Now in the award’s 16 year history only the two Eastie schools have received the $100,000 prize. However, several schools in Eastie have been nominated for the prize over the years with both the Otis and the Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School on Saratoga Street nominated this year.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey shared remarks and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius joined the EdVestors team to announce the winner live and recognize the two finalists during a ceremony at the GBH Studios in Brighton. WCVB-TV. Anchor and Reporter Rhondella Richardson served as emcee at the ceremony, which was also attended by key business, civic, and education leaders.

When the Otis was announced as this year’s winner Otis Principal Paula Cerqueira-Goncalves jumped up in excitement and ran to the stage to accept the award.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as this year’s School on the Move,” said Cerqueira-Gonçalves. “We believe that together we can make a difference in the lives of all our students with the support of our families and partners and ensure every single student reaches his or her fullest potential.”

For the past 16 years EdVestors, a school improvement organization in Boston, has awarded its $100,000 Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize to recognize rapidly-improving schools that have made exemplary progress in advancing the academic achievement of all students.

The Otis School was praised for academic improvements, culture of collaboration and key partnerships that helped keep students engaged during the height of the pandemic

“The James Otis Elementary School in East Boston is a shining example of how a culture of collaboration and respect can empower students and families, boost academic outcomes, and prove foundational for navigating through difficult times,” said President and CEO of EdVestors Marinell Rousmaniere. “As we look to reimagine learning in the coming years, all three School on the Move finalists help provide a roadmap for new approaches in support of student learning and continued school improvement.”

According to Rousmaniere the 410-student Otis Elementary has seen consistent improvements in both literacy and math, exceeding district averages in math from 2014-2019 and in ELA in 2018-2019. The school credits its improvement to strong leadership and meaningful collaboration with its families as well as its partnerships with local universities and community organizations that help provide teacher professional development and promote student engagement in STEM. 

At the Otis, nearly 75 percent of the student population has a first language other than English. Reflective of the student diversity, Otis teachers are also multilingual. In addition, the school provides wraparound services to families and provides professional development focused on race and critical consciousness to teachers, enabling students to see themselves in their learning.

“The entire BPS community is proud of the James Otis Elementary School for this well-deserved recognition,” said BPS Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius. “All three of the finalist schools work hard every day to create positive learning environments that support student growth and build positive relationships among teachers, families and communities. As we continue to promote equity and excellence throughout the district, we look forward to learning from the James Otis Elementary School’s accomplishments and implementing their positive practices across our schools.”

The Kennedy and New Mission High School in Hyde Park will both receive $30,000 for being finalists. This amount for finalists increased from $10,000 to $30,000 due to an anonymous donations this year to the prize.

“Congratulations to the James Otis Elementary School and the Patrick J Kennedy Elementary School as well as New Mission High School,” said Janey. “These schools are finalists for this year’s School on the Move Prize because of their incredible work providing a rich education to Boston’s young people. Schools across the City of Boston have shown their resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether we are educators or students, families or community partners, or public officials or advocates, coming together to ensure a quality education for our children is key.”

During the ceremony, EdVestors also took a moment to remember Dr. Tom Payzant, who served as Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools for 11 years and led the district through a period of important change and progress. Payzant passed away in July 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *